It started during a regularly scheduled mid-week chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky on February 8, 2023, and continued around the clock through Monday, February 20, 2023. On Saturday, February 19, the Asbury University revival entered the 11th day. It had gone viral and thousands of people across the country and overseas traveled to Kentucky to attend. Large numbers watched via live stream. On the 19th Asbury President Dr. Kevin J. Brown announced that as the revival entered its third week, a schedule had been established for the upcoming week for ending the 24-hour worship at Hughes Auditorium. The last public worship service at the auditorium would be on February 20 at 2:00 p.m. From Monday to Wednesday evening services at the Hughes Auditorium were reserved for high schoolers and young adults 25 years and younger. On Thursday the auditorium was closed until 7:30 p.m. for the National Collegiate Day of prayer. Only high school and college students were allowed in. It was necessary to draw things to a close.
Dr. Brown noted that, “We are experiencing a historic moment at Asbury University. ….. There have been countless expressions and demonstrations of radical humility, compassion, confession, consecration, and surrender unto God. We are witnessing what Scripture describes as the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” He concluded his statement by commissioning the Asbury community and others to “neighbor-serving, God-honoring work.”
The auditorium, university, and city of Wilmore had exceeded capacity, and now it was time to take the Good News of Jesus to the rest of the city, nation, and the world. As the pastor of our church says to the congregation every Sunday, “You are sent. Go and make disciples.”
I have noticed various responses to the Asbury Revival of 2023. I personally consider it an official sending of believers out into the world to be Jesus’ witnesses – in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Faculty and students were being sent to be witnesses for Christ and to make disciples.
What are the takeaways here? Revivals are by nature temporal. T.S. Elliot spoke of “flashes of unattended moments where time seems to intersect with something timeless.” We want to save the moment. We want to keep it and take it with us. Thus, we take pictures. But I believe the value of such moments is not the moment itself but rather the lasting effect. Russell Moore stated in Christianity Today (February 23, 2023) that the full effects of the Asbury revival will take years to see.
I like to look at the big picture. There have been eight previous revivals at Asbury alone. They were in 1905,1908,1921, 1950, 1958, 1970 1992, and 2006. Irv and I specifically remember the Revival of 1970. Following the rebellious 1960’s, America desperately needed a revival. We were a young married couple with an infant son. Irv was in the Air Force. After discharge, Irv entered seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. We met new friends at the seminary who had been students at Asbury during the 1970 revival. There was significance to God’s timing of that revival and there is significance to God’s timing now.
I believe we are living in one of the darkest times both in the world’s history and in the history of our country. We may even be living in the last days. There are wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes and floods. Extreme weather and rampant crime in the daily news. And yet the 2023 Revival has spread to 35 other colleges, the 2023 Jesus Revolution film has just been released, Kirk Cameron is currently doing a public library book tour. Along with other Christian authors he is promoting his new Children’s book, Christian values, and seeking to restore love for America. Coincidence? I think Not! This is a moment in time to pause and look forward, look up, and participate in the Revival of 2023.
Praying for ongoing revival,
“Will You not Yourself revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord,
And grant us your salvation.” Psalm 85:6